Ashta (Aashta or Asta) Kali Mata Mandir in the quaint village of Asta is another architectural gem of the Yadavas of Devagiri built in the 13th century in the Hemadpanthi style of architecture by Raja Mahadeva (though some believe that it was built by Raja Ramachandra). Hemadpanthi style of architecture derives its name from Hemadri Pandit or Hemadapanta, the famous Sanskrit scholar and trusted minister of the Yadavas of Devagiri.
The temple complex originally had eight temples though only ruins and foundations are seen today. Locals say that this village came to be called Asta (means eight in Sanskrit) after the eight temples built by the Yadavas.
Hemadri Pandit was known to be a remarkable man and considered by many to be a yogi. The story is that this temple was built overnight by Gods using large stones. However, the construction of the temple stopped at dawn and therefore, the other temples in the site are incomplete. The stones even today appear to be of the rarest kind with the most exquisite carvings.
Only two temples are in their original location though the shikhara has fallen off. The foundation of a massive temple is seen in the middle of the eastern side. Some pillars are still standing while the rest of this grand structure has been reduced to rubble. The idol of Kali Mata seen on the outer northern wall of this temple is Swayambhu. There are other idols close to Kali Mata that appear to be of great antiquity.
Thousands of devotees throng this temple on the auspicious occasion of Chaitra and Shardiya Navratri. The Kali Mata seen here bears some similarities to the Kali Mata in Dakshineshwar.
There is a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva with a Shiva Linga consecrated in the sanctum sanctorum opposite Kali Mata. This west-facing temple also has idols of Parvati Devi and Lord Shiva.
One can find five temples in this complex and the sixth may be where two damaged idols of Nandi stand. The remaining two are a mystery.
Historians opine that this temple structure was desecrated by the Mughals. This temple is a protected monument of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).
Written by Lakshmi Subramanian
* Photos are only symbolic (Taken from public domain/internet and any copyright infringement is unintentional and regrettable)
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